Saturday, October 25, 2014

One-week cruise: the good, the bad and the ugly

One of our goals for our first season of cruising was to complete a one-week cruise before the season ended. It was beginning to look like we might not meet that goal. So, right after the boat show, we decided to go out for a week. We gave ourselves permission to cut it short if necessary.

We quickly threw together our provisioning list and did the shopping. We packed our clothes, loaded up the boat and took off on a gloomy, drizzly morning. There was very little wind so we had to motor for the first hour. We were wearing full foul weather gear to keep us warm and dry. Our initial plan was to spend our first night in an anchorage near the mouth of the Choptank and then decide where to go from there based on the wind direction. However, the wind picked up, we hoisted the sails and were near our planned destination in just a few hours. We made the decision to press on, head North on the Chesapeake and anchor in the Wye River. We later regretted that decision.

Within about an hour the wind dropped and we had to motor-sail in order to make our destination before dark. We definitely didn't want to be anchoring in an unfamiliar anchorage (or familiar one, for that matter) after dark. Once we entered the Chesapeake there weren't any other good options for anchoring unless we turned around.

So, about 30 minutes before sunset we anchored our boat in Shaw Bay on the Wye River. We had been traveling for 81/2 hours and had motored half the time. We were exhausted.

Sunset at Shaw Bay

There was more wind than we expected in the anchorage so the boat did quite a bit of swinging and our sleep was disrupted. We were rewarded in the morning, though, with the sights and sounds of two bald eagles and their nest. I just love bald eagles and am thrilled every time I see one.

We weighed anchor and motored into the Wye East River.

Motoring on Wye East River

It is an absolutely beautiful river with plenty of wildlife and gorgeous, old stately homes hear and there. We tucked into the very narrow Granary Creek and found a wonderful, protected anchorage with just enough room for our boat. We stayed there two nights to wait out some major rain storms. We could see the wind blowing out on the river, but it was completely calm in our little anchorage.

Granary Creek

 

Before the storms arrived George inflated the dinghy and we took it over to a landing at Wye Island refuge. We went for a walk on the park road. It was a beautiful walk in the woods with the leaves just beginning to turn fall colors. After we returned to the boat the only thing that disturbed our peace was the occasional sound of gunshot. Yikes! It is apparently hunting season around these parts. It does make us feel a little uneasy when we pass by one of the many duck blinds. Hopefully there won't be shooting at sailboats!

We continued up the Wye East River and anchored one night in Skipton Creek just past a beautiful estate that had about 40 black sheep grazing in the front lawn. What a sight!

A bald eagle greeted us when we arrived. We dinghied over to Wye Landing which has a few ramshackle buildings, docks, boat landing and a beer keg mooring field. Ha! How creative!

Beer Keg Mooring
Beer Keg Mooring Field

We took a walk and then dinghied past the black sheep to get a closer look.

We spent our next night at a small anchorage near the mouth of the Wye East River. Another lovely, peaceful, protected spot.

Anchorage on Wye East River

Unfortunately, while I was showering in the afternoon, our water tank ran dry. No, it wasn't because I was being wasteful with the water! I was actually being careful about conserving it. The problem was that we had become complacent about monitoring our water levels and usage since we had never anchored out for more than two nights at a time. We never seemed to use much water and rarely had to fill the tank. George had filled the tank a week before our this cruise but we had anchored out with friends for one night and hadn't topped the tank off after that trip. The water level sensor doesn't seem very accurate so we found ourselves ignoring it. Well, lesson learned. We considered our options and decided to continue to stay out for another two nights as planned. We had gallon jugs of water for drinking and wipes for washing our hands. We stockpiled the dirty dishes and our heads flush with sea water so that wasn't an issue. We decided against going to St. Michaels to fill the water tank. It was still windy and I didn't want to try to tie up to their docks in that much wind. (Not until I get much better at docking).

The next morning we headed back down the Chesapeake and into the Choptank with a plan to stay in Boby Owl Creek, a protected anchorage off of Broad Creek. The winds were a steady 20-25 knots from the west so we had a good sail down Eastern Bay and in the Chesapeake. The seas were 3-4 feet so it was quite a bumpy ride. George enjoyed the ride more than I did.

Boby Owl Creek was not as calm as we had hoped so the boat was swinging quite a bit at anchor. It was difficult to get to sleep with the noise of the wind and the anchor snubber lines stretching. At midnight George woke up and checked the anchor alarm and found that our anchor had dragged 280 feet. The alarm was set to go off if we moved more than 100 feet and we don't know why it didn't. We were apparently almost on the rocks and in the trees although it was hard to tell where we were because it was pitch black outside. We quickly went up into the cockpit, started the engine and weighed the anchor. I was absolutely terrified because I could not see where we were or where we were going. On top of that, the Marriage Saver headsets that we use to communicate when anchoring weren't working so George couldn't hear me and I couldn't hear him. He had to walk halfway back to tell me what to do. We did get the anchor set, with more rode this time, and didn't drag the rest of the night. It was an experience I hope to never have again. All I wanted to do was go home.

It wasn't until after we did get home that I was able to put perspective on the cruise and realize it was overall a good experience. The good included the beautiful anchorages we saw and the great sailing we had; the bad was running out of water; and the ugly was dragging anchor in the middle of a very dark and windy night. We thoroughly enjoyed the good and learned from the bad and ugly.

Safely back at the dock

 

 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Boat Show!

The Annapolis Boat Show is quite a big deal. The literature claims that it is the largest and oldest boat show. The entire inner harbor of Annapolis is filled with floating docks. The boats that are tied to the docks are so close together it is hard to imagine how they maneuver them in and out. I have heard it is quite a sight to see how they assemble and disassemble it.

Pictures don't do it justice.

View from the water taxi after closing

 

In addition to wall-to-wall boats that have several tents full of vendors. It can be quite overwhelming.

We have been attending the boat show most years for the past eight years. Early on we went because we happened to be in town visiting our daughter in college. We bought a few odds and ends, like a soft-sided cooler one year and an electric gadget to help us with our starts in races another year. Last year we were shopping for our cruising boat.

This year we returned to look at some items we may want to add to Breeze On if we take her to the Bahamas. (My dream.) We talked to some vendors about solar panels and wind generators. We also talked to vendors about composting heads. (Send me a comment if you would like to know more :-). George had a few of his questions answered about the navigation system. It was easier to get information about products and have questions answered when we could actually see the products and speak to someone face-to-face about them. We bought only a few things; a couple of nice, sharp knives to use on the boat, some Kanberra gel and and this cool little solar light that I am hoping we can use at the dinner table tonight.

Charging the solar light

Now that we have Breeze On I really don't have much interest in looking at other boats. We did spend a little bit of time checking a few out anyway. We looked at an Amel just out of curiosity. It was 55 feet long and a mere 1.4 million dollars. It had real glass windshields (or something very much like real glass) and the interior was like a fancy Manhattan apartment.

 

We saw a 90 foot catamaran. Ninety feet long!!! It was humongous!!

 

We looked at this year's version of the Hanse 415 which is very much like ours. We also looked at the Hanse 575 which has a garage in the stern into which you can pull your dinghy! What a hoot!

There were a few added treats for us in this year's boat show. We went with friends, Dawn and Ray, the first day. I also was able to meet up with some women from the wonderful Women Who Sail FaceBook group. I so enjoy talking with other women who enjoy sailing as much as I do. On the second day we met with other Hanse owners at a Hanse owners cocktail party. We also met some very nice couples who belong to the Sailing Happily Ever After FaceBook group.

Our two days there were exhausting but educational and fun.